Café Pushkin: A Dinner Date with History
Café Pushkin is one of Moscow’s hidden gems. This grand palatial restaurant opened in 1999 – although many people are sure it has always been there. Let us investigate further.
The name Pushkin is homage to famed writer Alexander Pushkin who frequented the neighborhood. Or if you are a James Bond fan, perhaps General Pushkin from The Living Daylights sits better with you (I must confess that’s who I thought of initially). But names aside, we are here to experience the history of a pink Baroque mansion “a la russe”, in the middle of Moscow. But let’s start at the beginning.
In the late 18th-century a former nobleman in the service of Empress Catherine the Great moved to Moscow. There he decided to build a grand Baroque residence for his retirement with the help of Italian architects. After his death, the house passed to a German aristocrat who was on the verge of financial ruin. In order not to go bankrupt, he was forced to open a pharmacy in the building, which proved a success.
At the same time, a library full of reference books was installed on the upper and mezzanine floors. The library grew and became a extensive collection with more three thousand volumes in total (including works of Alexander Pushkin of course). Downstairs, the customers waiting for their medicines to be prepared could drink restorative beverages, teas, coffee, or hot chocolate while waiting for their medicines to be prepared. Thus a small café appeared on the ground floor of the building.
Fast forward a century or two, and we are finding our selves standing in a time capsule, surrounded by surviving elements and decorations from the building’s long and vivid past, including the stucco-work around the walls and ceilings, a cast-iron grille and paintings on the ceilings.
The Baroque mansion is now home of Café Pushkin. A colorful homage to Russian aristocracy and rich history of the building, which retains not only its extensive library, but also parts of the pharmacy, including the original pharmacy counter in pristine state.
We also find a great number of original porcelain bottles bearing Latin inscriptions, used in the preparation of medicinal powders, essences, and tinctures, with pharmaceutical scales. The numerous globes, microscopes and telescopes strongly hint of their forman German owners interest in the world of science.
There are also some later items that illustrate the technological progress of the twentieth century. They include a Latin-alphabet typewriter, a bouillotte, a soda syphon, a device for opening wine-bottles, chocolate-cups for hot chocolate and a musical box.
This café must be experienced in person. Whether you go for a quick breakfast, enjoy their extensive wine tasting evenings or delight in any of the gourmet creations of resident head chef Andrei Makhov.
26-A Tverskoy Boulevard, +7 (495) 739-0033